(airdate: September 8, 1966)
Writer: George Clayton Johnson
Director: Marc Daniels
Captain James Kirk: William Shatner
Dr. Leonard McCoy: DeForest Kelley
Lt. Sulu: George Takei
Nancy Crater: Jeanne Bal
Crewman Green: Bruce Watson
Mr. Spock: Leonard Nimoy
Yeoman Janice Rand: Grace Lee Whitney
Lt. Uhura: Nichelle Nichols
Robert Crater: Alfred Ryder
Crewman Darnell: Michael Zaslow
M-113 Creature: Sharon Gimpel
Captain's Log: The Enterprise travels to Planet M-113 to administer a medical check-up for the archaeologist team of Robert and Nancy Crater. However, there is something unusual about Dr. McCoy's old flame Nancy. Soon Enterprise crewmen are turning up dead, the salt completely gone from their bodies. Under pressure, Robert Crater reveals his secret: his wife Nancy has been dead for a year, killed by a shape-shifting salt vampire - the last of its kind. The vampire has been posing as his wife ever since, but it has now posed as Crewman Green and been beamed aboard the ship. While on the ship, it kills another crewman before attempting to remove the salt from Kirk's body, but it's killed by a phaser blast from Dr. McCoy.
Whoops!: There's an odd gunshot ricochet sound effect when Dr. Crater is stunned with a phaser. Gertrude the flower is so clearly a hand in a glove (and moves like someone flexing their hand about) that it's a wonder they thought they could get away with it.
Not necessarily a problem at this point, but Spock is more emotional in the fight in McCoy's quarters than he would have been later on in the series.
Classic Lines: McCoy to Kirk: "Is that how you get girls to like you - by bribing them."
Cringe Lines: "Why don't you go chase an asteroid?"
"May the Great Bird of the Galaxy bless your planet." (Never mind that it's the nickname of series creator Gene Roddenberry - it's still a terrible piece of dialogue.)
And it may have been the first episode broadcast, but surely the conversation between Spock and Uhura could have been a little more subtle in its attempt to point out Spock's alien nature?
Don't Wear a Red Shirt: Not a bad bodycount for the first episode, as Crewmen Darnell, Sturgeon, Green, and Barnhart all fall prey to the salt vampire. Not to mention Dr. Crater himself. Sadly, however, none of them are actually wearing a red shirt.
Alien Love: Well, the fact that "Nancy" is really a salt-draining alien leads to some questionable moments with people such as McCoy and Uhura, but this seems to be limited to attempted seduction on the part of the vampire with the aim of feeding. Although it might not be tactful to inquire just what the relationship between Dr. Crater and the creature that was assuming her form for over a year exactly was...
Library Computer: The Enterprise has been updated a bit since the pilot. The ship itself is largely the same (although the points on the warp nacelles are gone from most shots), but the interior is different; the bridge is now primarily orange, grey, and black, the computers appear to have been upgraded (there are a lot more red, green, and yellow lights on them), the viewscreen is bigger, and the miniature displays have disappeared. There's also a dedication plaque by the turbolift now, which reads "U.S.S. ENTERPRISE, STARSHIP CLASS, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF" [although you kinda have to squint to make it out]. The corridors seen here are much more open and square, as opposed to the previous narrow, trapezoidal corridors. The Enterprise has equipment that could "pinpoint a match" or a person's body heat anywhere on a planet. It also has intruder alerts of General Quarters 3 and 4. Dr. McCoy's cabin location is 3F 127. The dispensary [what will later be known as "Sickbay"] is equipped with a device that can detect the vitals of the person laying on the bed beneath the readout screen. From left to right, this device monitors temperature (in both Fahrenheit and Celsius), brain activity, lungs, respiration rate, pulse rate, cell rate, and two blood gauges.
The personal communicators are now black, and the gold mesh cover has been slightly redesigned. Instead of the laser pistols we see phasers, which are black weapons that can fire a beam. Dr. Carter still has one of the "Cage"-style laser pistols, though [although it's had a couple bits attached to the handle]. In addition, Uhura and Spock both use a silver earpiece, roughly the size of a small medicine vial, which resembles the end of a honey dipper [a series of discs stacked on top of each other, with space between each disc].
The uniforms have also undergone a bit of an overhaul. There are still three colors, but now they're gold, blue, and red. The insignia on the assigment patches appear to have standardized: the starburst matched with gold [Command division], the two circles with blue [Sciences division], and the spiral with red [Operations division]. The bands around the cuffs have also standardized to indicate rank: no band indicates an ensign, one solid band indicates a lieutenant, a solid band and a dashed band indicates a lieutenant commander, two solid bands indicates a commander, and two solid bands with a dashed band between them indicates a captain. [This isn't all immediately obvious from what we see here, but this is the system designed by costume designer William Ware Theiss.] The men wear colored tunics with black collars over black undershirts with black bellbottom pants. The women wear single-piece uniforms with large black collars and very short skirts. The jumpsuits make a reappearance (although only in pale blue here), but they're missing the "U.S.S. Enterprise" print. Equipment here is secured on a gold sash worn around the waist, partially under the uniform tunic.
Captain Jim Kirk is in command of the Enterprise. He's in his mid 30s, with light brown hair and hazel eyes. He seems more action-oriented than Pike was, but still a strong leader. He affectionately calls Dr. McCoy "Bones". He doesn't like mysteries. He's wearing a gold command tunic.
Mr. Spock is from the planet Vulcan. He is now the second-in-command of the Enterprise, but still its science officer. He shows little emotion and acts logically, although he will spring to action when necessary [as in McCoy's quarters]. [As noted in "The Cage", the emotionless qualities displayed there by Number One have been transferred over to Spock. This has the effect of providing a much better focus for Spock's character from here on out.] He wears a blue sciences tunic.
Dr. Leonard McCoy is the Enterprise's chief medical officer. He's in his mid 40s, with dark hair, blue eyes, and a friendly disposition. He wears a blue sciences tunic.
Lieutenant Uhura is the Enterprise's communications officer. She's a black woman in her 20s, with upswept hair and large green hoop earrings. She's rather lonely and unsuccessfully tries to engage Spock in conversation. She can speak Swahili, and she states she's tired of hearing the word "frequencies". She's dressed in operations red.
Lieutentent Sulu is the Enterprise's helmsman. Of Asian descent, he's in his 20s and has an interest in botany, taking care of a number of plants - including plants called weepers, and a large pink and yellow flower that Rand names "Gertrude" - in the Botany department of the Life Sciences Division. He wonders why people use gendered pronouns with inanimate objects. He wears command gold.
Yeoman Janice Rand is a young woman with blonde hair in a beehive 'do. She seems nice and sweet, bringing food to Sulu. She wears operations red.
Planet M-113 is a hot and arid planet, once home to an ancient and long-dead civilization. The ruins appear to be made of stone, and there were lion-like creatures on the planet once [based on the ruins], and possibly a dragon-esque creature as well. One plant that exists on M-113 is the Borgia plant, a green plant "listed in [the] library record tapes as carbon group three vegetation...[with a] chemical structure common to class M planets." It resembles deadly nightshade, and its sole deadly quality is alkaloid poisoning.
On M-113 was an intelligent humanoid that fed on sodium chloride. The last of its kind, it had dark skin, covered in grey fur, with thin white hair on its head, a sucker-like mouth and suckers on its three fingers. It also had the ability to alter its appearance by affecting the perceptions of its viewers, and to paralyze its victim to make it easier to feed. It's implied that this may have been telepathic in nature, involving the emotions and memories of the victim. The creature fed by extracting salt from its victims via the suckers on its fingers, leaving a red mottling behind. Dr. Crater stated that he could recognize the creature regardless of its appearance, suggesting that its disguise was not perfect. It isn't clear if the M-113 creature was a member of the race that created the ruins on the planet.
Dr. Robert and Nancy Crater were a husband-and-wife archaeologist team. They had been on M-113 for five years, excavating the ruins there. There had been fairly heavy shipments of artifacts for their first four years on M-113, until Nancy was killed by the salt vampire. She was roughly 36 when died. She had had a relationship with Dr. McCoy when she was twenty-five. Her nickname for him was "Plum."
According to regulations, quote, "all research personnel on alien planets are required to have their health certified by a starship surgeon at one-year intervals." Salt is needed on hot and arid planets such as M-113.
The blood salts of a Vulcan do not consist of sodium chloride.
Vulcan has no moon.
Wrigley's Pleasure Planet receives a namecheck.
Final Analysis: "Once there were millions of them. Now there's one left." As the broadcast premiere, "The Man Trap" has a fair amount to do, what with introducing the Enterprise, its crew, and the internal logic of how the world of Star Trek works. So it's a little odd that, after a promising first half, so much time is spent on padding, with the disguised creature wandering the halls of the ship and threatening various crewmembers, and so little on actual plot development. The story plays on knowledge that the audience possesses that the crew doesn't, but it doesn't actually do much with that information. Not the worst episode by any means - its only real sin is that it's rather dull for a series premiere - but Star Trek would soon become much better.
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Page originally created: December 23, 2007
Page last updated: January 25, 2018